Mendiants are a French confection that are popular at celebrations or given as gifts around Christmas time. They were traditionally studded with nuts and dried fruits chosen to represent the robe colors of the four monastic orders, or mendicants, of the church: raisin for the Dominicans, hazelnut for the Augustinians, fig for the Franciscans and almond for the Carmelites. These friars lived on charitable offerings, earning them the appellation of “mendiants,” meaning “beggar” in French. Today any variety of fruit and nuts are used which offers a great opportunity to show off your creativity.
Tempering the chocolate is not necessary if the candies will be eaten within a few days, so all you really need to do is melt your favorite chocolate (dark, milk, or white) to create circles that you can decorate with your favorite edible ornaments. We’re thinking of using broken pretzel pieces or candied ginger next time.
Chocolate Mendiants – a Traditional French Confection
chocolate chips: dark, milk or white chocolate
nuts: any variety such as hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, etc.
dried fruit: any variety including raisins, cranberries, candied orange peel, dried apricots, etc.
optional: fleur de sel (sea salt)
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate chips in a bain-marie (a double boiler) or in the microwave. Microwave method: Heat for 15 seconds. Stir gently with a spoon for 20 seconds until partially melted chips are coated with melting chocolate. Microwave for another 10 seconds and stir again for about 20 seconds. Continue microwaving at 10 second intervals, stirring gently in between until chocolate becomes shiny and smooth, and all the chips are just melted. Stir gently to avoid getting bubbles.
Drop one tablespoon of melted chocolate onto the parchment and use the spoon to form a 2 inch circle (about 5cm). Continue creating no more than 5 or 6 circles at a time and allow them to set for about a minute.
Begin decorating each circle with the dried fruit and nuts by gently laying them on top of the chocolate.
Repeat process of creating more chocolate circles. Reheat the bowl of melted chocolate as needed in 10 second intervals to keep the chocolate smooth.
Allow all the chocolates to set for about 30 minutes before attempting to remove from the parchment paper. Enjoy them right away, or store in the refrigerator for a few days to keep a little longer.
Bucks County, Pennsylvania photographers Andrea & Paul Bartholomew explore food, history and culture, both locally and throughout the culinary world, sharing their experiences through photography that inspires.